Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Steven's Reviews: Sword of Sorcery, The Shadow, Ghost and More!

Sword of Sorcery #0
Again I have to say that the better zero issues coming from the new DCU are those which introduce a new series.  This is the re-introduction of Amethyst to the DC Universe which in my humble opinion is long overdue.  We did see her last in Flashpoint and that appearance was enough to make at least me want more and apparently others as well though why it took this long I don’t know.
So this time around Amy Winston is in high school and has a definite look to her that says she expresses herself in her own unique way.  Or if you are familiar with her more like Black Alice in appearance.  We learn as this story goes on that she is on the verge of becoming seventeen and she and her mother have moved around a lot. 
            Oh and as if she didn’t think herself a big enough freak mom has been taking her outside and training with her.  Well since they are on Earth you may be wondering what exactly they are training with and for.  Well swords not to put too fine a point on it, yes pun intended bad and all, and swordplay. 
            Oo what is different this time around makes the series that much more exciting to see unfold.  Yes it appears to have some aspects of what is common today, see Snow White and the Huntsman or even Once Upon a Time elements which in today’s world do give it a certain dramatic edge.  Someone rather wicked is in charge of Castle Amethyst and she’s constantly looking for those gone missing, or just others that may have a connection to her lineage.
            Back on Earth Amy is learning just how different she is yet again.  She can’t help but do the right thing.  She rescues a fellow student from a gang rape and the girl instead of thanking her runs off scared of her.  Despite her outward appearance she does what is right and has a heart of gold. 
            There is something special about Amy’s seventeenth birthday, some significance that I perhaps am missing still her mother takes her home for the first time she can remember.  A home that she isn’t prepared for but somehow will find herself fighting to defend soon enough.  This really is perhaps the best introductory issue I’ve seen from the new fifty two to date.  From a wonderful story viewpoint to the incredible artwork this fantasy series is sure to set the comics world on fire.  Plus the appearance of one man may change this character in more ways than she can expect.
            The back-up feature is Beowulf.  Instead of taking place in the past in an era long forgotten this takes place in an apocalyptic future.  Nice twist on a classic tale really.  Still I will say I am not sure how this story fits into the DC Universe or how it is really sword and sorcery instead to me it’s almost a military tale instead but I’ll wait and see how this version unfolds.  The art at least is incredibly well done and leaps and bounds above what Jesus has shown in the past. 
The Shadow #5
Dynamite Entertainment 2012
Written by Garth Ennis
Art by Aaron Campbell
Colours by Carlos Lopez
            This continues to blow me away.  Set back in the era in which it was created at first I felt was good for the series and now I feel it’s the perfect backdrop.  I love that we are getting the Shadow’s origin in a story that not only introduces us to this world but in a whirlwind of action and suspense to boot.  Aaron’s art here in this book is perhaps the best he’s ever done period and that is saying something considering his volume of work.
            There are some aspects to this story that in all honesty I wasn’t expecting and maybe even not prepared for either.  Sure I was prepared for some double maybe even triple crossing or the old bait and switch routine but that paled in comparison to what actually happened. 
            For all his faults and whining and what not I do hope that we continue to see Mister Finnegan in this series.  In some ways he is almost the perfect foible for Allard and while seemingly clueless I look forward to seeing more of him and if he is anywhere near as smart as he thinks he is.  It is almost one of those relationships that is near perfect when you stop to think about it.  I mean one is always searching and the other trying to stay one step ahead what more can you want out of all this?  Plus it does help to have someone on the inside whom you can get information out of when you need it as well.
            So this issue is good for seeing how they survived the attack on the ship they were traveling on.  The journey where they catch up to and well outsmart Kondo and company well it really does just flow perfectly.  This really is one of the better series I’ve had the pleasure to read.
Irresistible #3
Zenescope Entertainment 2012
Raven Gregory –Writer
Amin Amat –Art
Mike Stefan –Colours
            After a wild night out at a strip club with his friends, Allen Keeg helped an old lady escape the clutches of three robbers.  She promised him anything his heart desired, and without thinking, Allen wished to be irresistible.  Ever since that night, Allen has been having anonymous sex with tones of women in public places—but what he doesn’t know is that his dream is about to become a nightmare.  Just as Allen comes home from realizing that his ex-girlfriend, the love, has moved on, he walks in to find one of his conquests going crazy for him…literally.
            Raven manages to mix the adage be careful what you wish for with elements of Stephen King, think Thinner, and create something fun, interesting and somewhat disturbing.  I mean sure at first it would be fun to be able to bang anyone you want without even trying, okay so I have a Jason Stackhouse obsession too, but when it goes too far what do you do?  Who can you turn to for help?  Certainly not your guy friends I mean they’ll think you are crazy if you say every woman is throwing themselves at you, mainly because they are guys and stupid. 
            At the police station any female cop is going to well want him in the most primal of ways.  Oh and in case you were wondering that does exactly happen in this issue. 
            When he goes out with is friends well things get out of hand again, I mean whose bright idea was it to go to a strip club?  Yeah well then the story takes something of a more dramatic turn that I really wasn’t prepared for.
            You will have to read the story to find exactly what that is but suffice it to say it changes his life forever.  I love Raven and what he can do with a story.  Just when you think it is going in one direction he manages to go somewhere else completely with it.  Seriously it just amazes and surprises you so that by the end of this issue you put the book down in wonder, awe and amazement at what it is you just read.
            Then we also have the artwork.  Amin and Mike manage to create this almost soft and warm environment that can turn hard and odd on a dime.  It’s just as incredibly special as the story itself and keeps proving that Zenescope is in the thick of it.
Ghost #0
Dark Horse Comics 2012
Story by Kelly Sue Deconnick
Art by Phil Noto
            I would say the dramatic return of the Ghost but she actually came back before this in Dark Horse Presents with a teaser leading us into this issue.  I don’t know about the rest of you but I am pretty excited to see the return of this character. 
            Former Journalist Vaughn Barnes has been reduced to moonlighting as cameraman for the shoddy paranormal-investigation cable TV show Phantom Finders.  But when a curious device summons the specter of a beautiful, translucent woman, Vaughn is plunged into a mystery of criminal intrigue that spans two worlds!
            Now I know so many people who love any one of or all of those ghost adventures/hunters etc shows that litter cable channels these days and by using one of these as the basis for re-connecting with the Ghost is a pretty smart move. 
Also Kelly does a wonderful job introducing us to these characters here.   We get plenty of great characterization of the characters well with possibly the exception of the Ghost herself but then uncovering her past and her name is pretty much what this series primary goal is.  I do like that they seem to get along alright but there isn’t entirely some good strong trust going on either.  Tommy and Vaughn are definitely in the same boat however I’m not sure it seats two if you my meaning.  The believer and the skeptic thrown together and almost forced to work together, co-workers who have to become partners whether they like it or not.  It’s a dynamic that works and Kelly does a nice job on it with these guys.
This was interesting in that it you can feel the different chapters in the story as they happen.  The chapters happen with a distinction even though they aren’t labeled as such and if that is done on purpose I think it’s an effective tool here.  If Kelly didn’t exactly intend that to happen then yikes, regardless the pacing of it all works.
There is some violence here so if you are squeamish you may want to be a tad careful thankfully though there isn’t any gore.  Phil does some very very nice work on the interiors here.  There are times though that the backgrounds are very plain and boring yet overall it looks good.  Specially when we see the Ghost in her white outfit it has the ethereal look thanks to the colouring.
I have to say this is a successful introduction to a character that has been gone much too long.
The Pound: Ghouls Night Out #1
IDW Publishing 2012
Stephan Nilson –Writer
Ibrahim Moustafa –Pencils & Inks
Romulo Fajardo Jr. –Colours
            Okay perhaps it is just me but I do have a soft spot for creatures of the supernatural, good, bad and ugly.  So that this issue starts off with the Creature from the Black Lagoon just makes me incredibly happy.  Even more so since he scares the heck out of a kid and he’s got acid spittle which wasn’t even in the movie!
            Alright so there are quite a few stories happening in this issue simultaneously.  Stephan manages to handle the multiple arcs happening all at once without it feeling crunched or out of place.  I have a feeling that they will eventually all converge into one and what may be missing now will fall into place by the end.  In the meantime everything we are given here is more than enough to draw you in and keep your interest.
            After seeing some vampires get attacked by other vampires we move onto Scottie and Howie who are the stars of the book and they head out onto the lake to do some fishing.  After they head out the Sheriff who is still on the pier has some stellar dialogue with a couple of strangers whose faces we don’t get to see.  This was really impressive as you kind of know who they are as unfortunately the cover gives it away but still it was nice to “hear” the dialogue on the page. 
            There really is a lot going on here and while it does help if you have read the previous mini-series it isn’t essential that you have.  Which is another big plus, that you can jump in to the first issue and feel right at home as if you really haven’t missed anything.  There is a little previously on the inside cover which does more than enough to say hay we are in Cleveland and these opened up a business for stray and lost pets which soon turned into them catching paranormal creatures instead.
            Cleveland seems to a hot place these days. I love that Scottie’s mother in law is coming to stay at his house, adding a whole new dimension to things that are sure to not only get sticky but pretty funny as well.  Oh and also apparently his house is being staked out by something which I’m sure we’ll learn most likely next issue.
            Oh and if all this weren’t enough if you are a fan of Proof then you’ll be happy to know that he makes a guest appearance here as well.   This is only a four issue mini-series and so far the writing is spectacular and the interior art matches the words beautifully.  There is some definite paranormal, supernatural fun going on here that needs to be experienced.

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